Don’t Worry, Be Happy: It’s What Robin Williams Would Want

I heard the news about Robin Williams shortly after a seven and a half mile run. I took a snapshot of my workout statistics on my phone, and was going to post them to Facebook. Maybe I would score a few likes. It was a big accomplishment, I had never run so far before. But what I was greeted with, once I loaded Facebook, was an endless stream of newsfeed updates about Robin Williams having passed away. I assumed it to be a hoax, until I saw several legit news media companies confirming it, and my heart sank. I, like many people, normally do not get caught up in empathizing with the passing of celebrities. But this one dug into my chest, tears teetered at my eyes as I laid in the cool, dewy grass under the setting sun.

August 11th, 2014: Robin Williams died of suicide.

I will never forget the date. I will never forget how much of an impact Hook had on me as a child. It was one of the significant keys to my imagination. Mrs. Doubtfire is a classic, and Aladdin is my favorite Disney movie. Robin Williams was my most favorite actor ever.

In 1988, Bobby McFerrin released Don’t Worry, Be Happy. It was the first a cappella song to reach number one on the Billboard Top 100, inspired by the Meher Baba quote. The four words compose a philosophy that, while it may strike as intrinsic and simple, is only simplistic, and is much more complicated and exasperating for many people.

But Robin Williams looks so happy in the music video. It’s been years since I watched it, I was still a child most likely. Watching it now, and seeing his incredibly infectious smile made it heart-wrenching. Reading all the accounts made by celebrities, especially Questlove’s visceral and charming moment he told Rolling Stone today, made it even more difficult to swallow. Remembering this video, and how it nestled somewhere in the depths of my memories and returned like an old recurring dream that had long been forgotten, brandished wistful feelings of juvenescence, nostalgia, and sort of a homesickness. I may never experience the feelings I initially felt when I first watched Robin Williams’ movies as a kid. What other actors or films or performances will arrive that offer a similar feel, or at least have the depth? Is that even possible anymore at this age? At my age? At our age?

Robin Williams committed suicide, and there’s no way to make light of that fact. He suffered immensely in ways none of us will ever understand. Only those close to him may have any semblance of what he endured, and even then, there was no saving him. There’s no room to debate here what caused it, what the resolution could have been, or where the resolution should have begun, nor to speculate on the difficulties that many artists—particularly the famous ones—endure despite appearing the opposite of what they feel. That makes not worrying much harder, and being happy is out of the question. Yet, his performances, and the accounts that people close to him made, illustrated him as a kind, loving and thoughtful man, full of warmth and talent. He was funny, he was bright, and he brought life to the theater, the stage, and to our ears. He reached countless hearts.

But then, this tragedy happened, and even the following day, in the instantaneous world we live in, one man’s passing resonates resoundingly. He did just what Bobby McFerrin’s song told us to do, but he did it mostly for the sake of others. He was a beautiful man, and he will be sorely missed.

I’m sure it’s what Robin Williams would want us to do, too. Don’t worry. Be happy. 

 

And here’s more to love about him and his musical performances:

 

A comedic improvisational genius, even when singing:

 

One of the greatest movie soundtrack songs of all time:

 

Robin Williams wails in Happy Feet:

 

This song doesn’t get enough play from Aladdin:

 

And don’t forget, he played Popeye!:

9 Comments

  1. Devon O'Connor

    August 13, 2014 at 10:25 am

    Crazy tragic, but beautiful article. He truly was a beautiful man.

  2. Chaz Pace

    August 13, 2014 at 11:51 am

    Such a talented man. I cannot remember seeing such an outpouring of universal love and sadness for anyone. And I must say it is justified. RIP Robin. Here’s him singing Bruce Springsteen as Elmer Fudd: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irC9WUp94EM

  3. Katie Antonsson

    August 13, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    Beautiful article, Kyle. This is a death that’s really hard to stomach.

  4. Nikki

    August 13, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    Well said little bro. It’s so sad. I just keep thinking of him in the dancing sequence from the Fisher King. That scene feels all the more poignant and haunting now.

  5. Wakana

    August 14, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    So sad. Great tribute.

  6. Stephanie

    August 14, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    Wow so much passion

  7. Lauren Silvestri

    August 14, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    Fantastic tribute, it’s incredible the impact he had on so many people, and we can all learn something from his legacy.

  8. Keegan

    August 14, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    Awesome article, Kyle. Still can’t believe it. I remember watching Mrs. Doubtfire as a kid and laughing and laughing and laughing. All of his movies did that. That episode of Whose Line? you linked is probably the best episode, bar none. I can quote that single episode for days.
    Then I grew up and dug into his dramatic work, Good Will Hunting, Insomnia. He was a talent regardless of whether he wanted to be funny or serious. I never met him, but I will truly miss him, and I can’t say that about too many other celebrities, if any.

  9. Ruby Mora

    August 15, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    This was an amazing tribute article. I still can’t believe such a great man who made so many people laugh is gone. He was one of the greatest comedians and actors of our time. RIP.

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